Maya Nnaji, an iconic athlete for the University of Arizona women’s basketball team, has formally split from her team. With Nnaji gone and injured freshman Montaya Dew out, the Wildcats are down to 10 players for the rest of the season.
The sophomore was noticeably absent from the Wildcats’ 88-75 loss to No. 5 Texas at the McKale Center. UA coach Adia Barnes noted that Nnaji is focusing on academics, leaving the door open for a potential comeback in the future.
The athlete tweeted her appreciation to the Wildcat Nation for their constant support during her time on the squad. She also disclosed that she had decided to give up basketball to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor.
Nnaji is currently enrolled in Arizona’s Accelerated Pathway to Medical Education (APME) program to enhance healthcare in Nigeria, the country of her father’s birth. Nnaji found it difficult to balance the demands of the APME program with the rigorous schedule of a Power 5 women’s college basketball program.
Coach Barnes acknowledged the difficulty of juggling academic and athletic commitments, emphasizing the importance of assisting student-athletes in achieving their academic goals. She agreed with Nnaji’s decision, noting that the sophomore needed time away from school to focus on her academic and career goals.
Nnaji, who was the highest-ranked recruit in UA history, appeared in nine games this season, averaging 10.2 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.